If you had a friend coming to Hawaii for just one day and you only had time to get them one local snack, what would it be?
Snack A: Chocolate-Covered Macadamia Nuts
Chocolate-covered macadamia nuts are probably the most popular souvenir for tourists and deserve consideration as Hawaii’s best snack. They aren’t the most exciting snack though, as they just M&Ms with a different nut inside. Japanese tourists love them though, and you can usually see them hauling bags of chocolate-covered macadamia nuts through the airport.
Where to get ’em: Walmart, ABC Stores, Longs Drugs, Costco, most grocery stores.
Snack B: Shave Ice
Shave ice is ice that’s been shaved down into small pieces and drowned in syrup. Local vendors also like to put ice cream, mochi balls, and other goodies in their shave ice concoctions. Shave ice is very popular here and everyone I know has a “shave ice spot.”
Snack C: Malasadas
“Malasadas” are Portuguese donuts. A mixture of flour, yeast, butter, and millk is deep-fried and then dipped in sugar. It’s a very simple recipe and also a very delicious one. I’ve also heard of creme-filled malasadas, for those who want to take gluttony to another level ;-).
Snack D: Crack Seed
Don’t worry, “crack seed” isn’t some sort of illicit drug in Hawaii. Crack seed is a variety of dried and pickled fruits and candies splashed with a sweet, red powder called li hing mui. Crack seed was introduced to Hawaii by migrant Chinese workers a long time ago. If you walk into a crack seed shop and can’t decide what to get, I suggest the li hing mui mango.
Snack E: Haupia
“Haupia” is either pudding or a gelatin made from coconut milk. Anytime there is a luau, haupia is usually the dessert, as it is a traditional food. Haupia is also a flavor that you can find in a lot of local foods like ice cream or pie filling. At times throughout the year, McDonalds will sell delicious haupia pies.
Where to get ’em: at a luau, sometimes at McDonalds (haupia pie), Zippy’s (haupia cake)
Snack F: Mochi Ice Cream
“Mochi” is a Japanese snack made by pounding cooked rice into a big blob and adding sugar to it. A more contemporary version of this is mochi ice cream, which is as soft and delicate as desserts get.
Where to get ’em: Bubbies (Honolulu-University and Hawaii Kai), Shirokiya (Ala Moana shopping center), Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. You can also buy Mikawaya’s mochi ice cream (pictured below) in Longs Drugs stores
Snack G: Arare, “Mochi Crunch”
“Arare” or “mochi crunch” or “kakimochi” is the Japanese version of potato chips. They are very crunchy and flavored with seaweed strips and soy sauce. One interesting thing is how much detail the makers put into these little rice crackers. I mean, when’s the last time a bag of potato chips looked so diverse?
Where to get ’em: gas stations, grocery stores, EVERYWHERE
These are the most popular Hawaiian snacks that come to mind. I actually don’t eat of them now, but I really enjoyed them as a kid growing up in Hawaii. I’m sure there are many snacks I’m forgetting. If so, be sure to mention them in the comments below.